Gulfport Sees a Little Computer Love


 After eight months with no Information Technology Director, Gulfport city council voted to contract with ExtenSys for information technology services. Former director Sam Rivera resigned in October 2012; since that time librarian David Mather served as the interim director of the city’s information technology department.

 “I sense that it happened rather quickly,” resident Bob Newcomb said, inquiring whether the city did due diligence before awarding the $117,000 annual contract. “If we know these are the best, then yes, we should hire them. But until we know that, I don’t think we should hire them.”

 “We did vet numerous companies,” City Manager Jim O’Reilly said, adding that he and Mr. Mather spoke with other companies as well.

 “I’m sure everybody’s done their due diligence, but this is a lot of money,” Councilwoman Christine Brown said. Councilwoman Brown said the schools system uses ExtenSys and she has waited, on occasion, “months” for computer issues to get fixed.

 The city will save over $70,000 by outsourcing these services, City Manager O’Reilly said. Mr. Mather will assume responsibility for the city’s IT department and Mr. O’Reilly told council he anticipated making Mr. Mather a director in October if he could find funds in the budget.

 “What we’re looking to do is lower costs over time,” City Manager O’Reilly said. In addition to the contract, the council approved a part time employee to work with information technology for the city police and Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office dispatch integration and records.

 “When we outsourced it, this wasn’t included?” Councilman Michael Fridovich asked. City Manager O’Reilly said the city had used a sworn officer and wished to hire a civilian.

 Only Councilwoman Brown voted against the contract with ExtenSys; the council voted unanimously to hire a part time employee to deal with the police department information technology issues.

 In the current fiscal year, Gulfport budgeted just over $220,000 for its Information Technology department; part of this year’s budget went to a vacation and sick time payouts for Mr. Rivera as well as a “wellness program” to bring the city’s network and computer system up to industry standards.
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